“It’s a trap!” – it’s one of the most iconic lines in the Star Wars franchise and is uttered by Mon Calamari Resistance fighter, Admiral Ackbar. The character was introduced in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, returned in The Force Awakens and swiftly met his end at the beginning of The Last Jedi. According to one Rogue One writer, Ackbar’s place in Disney’s new batch of Star Wars films could have been different.
When one Star Wars fan asked Gary Witta if there were ever any Return of the Jedi references that never made it in Rogue One, he had a massive one to share. As he states, Admiral Ackbar was going to have a significant role in the climax of the anthology film. He was going to lead the orbital attack! But J.J. Abrams nabbed the character first for The Force Awakens and apparently they couldn’t share.
Something good did come out of Admiral Ackbar’s absense from Rogue One's final script. The writers created a new fan-favorite in Admiral Raddus as his replacement. The fellow Mon Calamari officer commanded the Rebel starfleet before the Battle of Yavin and he’s memorably not a fan of Rebel speeches. A ship in the Rian Johnson-directed The Last Jedi was even named after Raddus.
Some would say it’s Ackbar that ended up getting the short end of the stick though. While the character was originally set to have a much larger role in J.J. Abrams’ film, most of it was cut out and the actor behind the role was really unhappy with the treatment of Ackbar in the end. Here’s what Tom Kane previously said:
We finished all of our bits and they asked me to come down to camera. And I thought, ‘Oh well, maybe they’re going to say thank you for being one of the heritage characters and giving 30 years and all that.’ But what they did was, they gave me a Millennium Falcon sign that had the day and the date on it, the scene number, and they said, ‘Can you look at camera and say "It's a wrap?" Because that would be really funny.’ … I was actually in tears in the suit because I thought - after everything, after hoping there’d be something, after knowing there wasn't going to be anything else, Ackbar's final moment before he went into the box was a big joke about ‘It's a wrap.’ They just thought ‘Wouldn’t it be funny?’ And that was the sum total of my life as Ackbar.
Yikes! Maybe Admiral Ackbar would have been in better hands with the Rogue One crew? Or, I don’t see why not both Rogue One and the new Star Wars trilogy could have made room for the character. At this point, there’s so many things being juggled that fans of the most key characters in the franchise are not happy, such as “Bring Ben Solo Back” being a massive social media movement.
It’s going to be a while before another Star Wars movie hits the big screen, but Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor from Rogue One is getting his own prequel series over on Disney+.